Scientific letters

Barriers to VCT despite 13 years of community-based awareness campaigns in a peri-urban township in northern Limpopo

Petra De Koker, Pierre Lefèvre, Francine Matthys, Patrick van der Stuyft, Wim Delva

Abstract


An estimated 5.7 million people in South Africa live with HIV/AIDS. In 2008, it was estimated that 12.5% of the Limpopo population aged 15 - 49 was HIV-positive, while the national HIV prevalence estimate was 18.8%.
Over the past 8 years, the South African government has supported prevention campaigns, expanded voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) sites, and increased the access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) to decrease the burden of the epidemic. VCT was offered at 87% of primary health care facilities in Limpopo Province in 2003. By 2007, 42% of the people in need of ART in South Africa had commenced it. Despite VCT’s benefits and the increased number of testing sites, many South Africans remain untested for HIV for various reasons.
In Bela-Bela, the HIV/AIDS Prevention Group (HAPG) has been active since 1996, providing VCT and care and support to people with HIV/AIDS. Its activities include prevention campaigns, free VCT and ART, home-based care and orphan care. Each year, 39.4 - 42.2% of the HAPG VCT attendees test HIV-positive. In 2005, 254 HIV/AIDS prevention activities were organised, reaching 15 570 participants (73% women).
We studied motivations for, and barriers to, VCT uptake among black South Africans living in Bela-Bela, a peri-urban town with a population of 55 844 and an unemployment rate of 21%.

Authors' affiliations

Petra De Koker, International Centre for Reproductive Health, Ghent University, Belgium; Department of Health, University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

Pierre Lefèvre, Department of Public Health, Epidemiology and Disease Control Unit, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium

Francine Matthys, Department of Public Health, Epidemiology and Disease Control Unit, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium.

Patrick van der Stuyft, Department of Public Health, Epidemiology and Disease Control Unit, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium.

Wim Delva, International Centre for Reproductive Health, Ghent University, Belgium; South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

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Keywords

Epidemiology; HIV/AIDS; Voluntary Counselling and Testing

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2010;100(6):364-365.

Article History

Date submitted: 2009-11-30
Date published: 2010-06-01

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